Friday, February 27, 2009

Very busy experimenting ...

As you can see, I'm very busy experimenting ...

I don't yet know where this will lead me, but it's for sure a challenge - and it makes fun ...

The hand spindles are self-made (jam jar lid, candle holder etc.) - the spinning wheel is antique and only borrowed - the knits are (left) partly, (right) entirely made out of self-spun yarn ...

I wish you a good and creative week-end!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Embellishing a book cover - and some recycling experiments

This is a book cover I made yesterday for a friend - it's basically made out of wool fleece and yarn ends punched on organza, then embellished with doodles in free machine embroidery. The lining consists of a red, middle weight acrylic felt, like used for place mats.

I inserted a normal A5 blank book, which can of course be changed when used up.

The edges of the cover were left uncut and so uneven as they came with the punching - I then adjusted the lining to it with a free motion stitch and cut the lining borders accordingly.

Today I spent the morning on some recycling experiments:

This one is a sample where I have woven in random scraps found on my working table (different kinds of fabric, yarn, wool, threads ...) in a weave of red wool yarn - and then punched it (from both sides) with the embellisher.

As I cut the edges clean, I realized that the cut-offs would make interesting stripes for other projects ...

The second one is a sample consisting of two thin layers of white wool fleece with tiny scraps of fabric inbetween - almost transparent, yet the colours shining through.

This could make an interesting background for embroidery, I thought - and it would also be thin enough to be further punched onto another background ...

The third one are actually two variations on a recycling spinning experiment (using my drop spindle, of course!):

- one single thread spun with orange&pink roving combined with small scraps of other colours of fleece and thread -

- and one using black wool fleece for the base, adding scraps of wool, threads, yarn and even tiny pieces of fabric, all found on my working table (yes, it's quite clean now ;-).

Finally, I plied the black yarn with a rayon silk thread in order to stabilize it and also for finding out how this opposite twisting would influence the look of it (I'm not so experienced with spinning yet ...).

For those of you wanting to try out drop spinning, there are some tutorials on YouTube, this one for example:

I also found a small one-woman-company in the U.S. selling a quill supported hand spindle called "Spindolyn", which looks quite clever and interesting - this is the link:

Does anyone of you have experience with this?<

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spinning on a drop spindle

Look! This is one of the first yarns I've spun myself on a drop spindle!

When visiting Sara two weeks ago, I also met Rita, who came only for a night to visit Sara for the first time as well. As I knew Rita to be a magician on spinning yarn, I asked her if she might show me how to do it, as I'd been trying to learn it out of books but never managed to get it right.

As none of us had a drop spindle at hand, Rita improvised with a Chinese chopstick(!), a piece of cardboard(!) and a ball of yarn(!) to teach me the basics. She's just a marvellous teacher, and somehow she actually got me spinning something looking almost like a yarn ...!

Back home again, I took out my heavy, wooden Swedish dropspindle and tried it out once more. And wow! It worked!

First I concentrated on forming a thin and very even thread, using carded white fleece - after a while I got bolder and started experimenting with thickness, colours and material, adding nubs and slubs, segments of darker wool inbetween, woolen curls, mixing fleece and roving ... it's so fun and very hard to stop when you've figured out how it works!

Today, I unwinded my single thread for the first time - it already had 138 g! - and gave it that shock-therapy with boiling water and then stretched it up to set the twist.

Sara gave me a wonderful little book called "Handspun Revolution" by pluckyfluff/Lexi Boeger before I left, and another very nice one is "Creative Spinning" by Alison Daykin and Jane Deane - if you read those, you really start dreaming of spinning the most exciting yarns yourself, adding about everything you find to make one-of-a-kind yarns.

Of course I'm dreaming about that too - and of getting an opportunity to learn how to spin on a wheel someday as well ...

Speaking about yarns, I found a knitting yarn shop at my trip to Vienna selling those magnificent Japanese "Noro" yarns ... they are really expensive, but irresistable - I had to treat myself to a few skeins nevertheless ...

Now I'm trying to work out some special way to knit them in order to display their most beautiful and unusual colour scheme ... I'm thinking of knitting them like mosaic pieces, combining them with a few other Italian yarns in corresponding colours.

This picture is unfortunately quite dull, as daylight is long gone for today - but maybe you get the idea at least, and I'll be back with some better photos as the project proceeds:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Black&White, Whatiffing 115-120

This time I've been experimenting with linen on woolen cloth (115, 116, 119 - starting upper left corner), linen on wool roving (117), wool and black lace on blackish woolen cloth (118) and silk fibers on the same (120).

For the first three ones I used the multicoloured package string for decoration, either punching or embroidering with it.

I think the surface of the sample with the red ribbon yarn punched to it (119) looks a bit like granite - maybe I can use that as a background for further Wiking motives ...

(I'll be off for the weekend - going to Vienna - back again Sunday evening! )

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What my Beggar's bowl looks like today

"A bowl, whatever its shape, is open. Open for possibilities."
(Sue Bender in "Everyday Sacred")

This is what my Beggar's bowl looks like today: the inside is almost finished, the outer side not yet.

(If you are new to the blog, you can read about the beginning of this project here and here.)

And once more I would like to point out that I do find "Everyday Sacred" to be a book worthwhile reading - it speaks in a slow way and with a low voice about the essentials in life ...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Punching a flower with Australian yarn ...

I'm a very lucky person: not only that I won a beautiful crocheted cushion as a giveaway on Elizabeth's blog today, last week - returning from Sara - I received a gorgeous parcel with all sorts of textile goodies from Paula in Australia ...

Today I decided to use some of the yarns Paula sent me for an embellished flower, which I punched to my favourite background (linen on woolen cloth) and then stitched with free machine embroidery. The 'frame' is also one of Paula's beautiful yarns, fastened with a straight machine stitch.

(I thought Spring would finally come now - instead it started snowing some hours ago, it's windy, dark and rotten cold ... I'm getting impatient.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Feel Hope They Say ...

Feel Hope They Say

A mother has lost her child.

A woman has lost her husband.

People have lost their homes.

Feel hope they say.

Please let it be Spring soon

so life will grow again.

I'm back again - I had a most wonderful time with Sara, so many impressions and inspirations, a nourishing and joyful time with such a gifted artist and generous woman like she is ...

Now I've bumped down to earth again, and need some time to sort out all messages which have been piling up while I was away.

I tried to do a Whatiffing today - it turned out a little different.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Embroidering and embellishing - and then off for a week!

This is an embroidery whatiffing on a Swedish medieval deer - I found a picture in a museum leaflet and wanted to try it out with the modern technique of the embellisher.

The background is again linen (or a mixture of linen and other materials, like for curtains ...), this time quite a rough one, punched on woolen cloth - then I drew the outlines with a pencil and embellished dark wool for the foundation - take a look at the lower horns, which I've left unembroidered so you can see.

I then embroidered three layers of fly stitch on the body and legs - one thick and one medium red thread from that tassel, finally a layer with normal red sewing thread - some black wool in satin stitch for the hoofs - brown wool in stem stitch for the outlines - finally couching stitch in green/blackish/red wool for the horn.

Afterwards I punched it slightly once more to "melt it in" to the background.

Next project:

These flowers are taken from pictures of Swedish carved butter molds from the 16th/17th century - I've stitched them with that gorgeous package string (see previous posting) in split stitch - accompanied by couching stitch (red wool with crosses in handspun linen yarn) and chain stitch (handdyed and -spun green/yellow wool) with green backstitch (here I've used green darning yarn).

Ah - and yes: I'll be off the blog now for a week - I'm going to Sara, she's invited me to stay and work with her - and I'm so proud and so excited, I can't tell ...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stitching Sami signs and runes

I'm proceeding with my experiments on stitching - and as I am Swedish, I focus a lot of my interest on the ancient culture of my own country.

These runes and magical signs are taken from an old Sami drum. The Sami population, who are the indigenous people of Northern Europe, totally count some 70.000 persons (20.000 in Sweden). They live in Sápmi, an area around the Polar circle, which stretches over Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. About 10.000 Samis are still involved in reindeer husbandry today.
The Sami religion was based upon the belief that the cosmos was divided into three spheres - the underworld, the real world and the celestial world. Shamans foretold the future and communicated with the gods with the help of sacred drums.

I now used a medium sort of linen punched on woolen cloth for the background, and the horizontal line is embroidered with a split stitch and a very unusual yarn: it's a 3-ply multicoloured recycling package string, which I found in a big construction material/DIY shop and then separated into three strands! I find these many but still muted colours to be really perfect for ancient and 'folkloristic' designs ... (I guess you will see more of this yarn in my future postings!)

The Sami runes and magical signs are made in stem stitch with two different types of thin, variegated knitting yarn. This works fine with a soft material like wool, but not with canvas, as the thread will break very soon being frequently pulled through the rough holes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Family" doodle - another stitching experiment ...

This is another stitching experiment, which I've done on linen-punched-wool cloth. I drew some doodles - which, funny enough, made me think of "family". I don't know if I just happen to have a weird imagination, but for me this is a (OK, very) abstract picture of a couple (man = red, woman = black), both curled up close to eachother, the woman holding a child and being hold by the man.

I drew it without intention, but when I had divided the curls into colours, the couple - the family - were absolutely clear to me. Can you see it, too?

The red embroidery is couching stitch, using that red woolen tassle again and some silky black thread - the dark one is grey knitting wool used for the chain stitch, and then couching stitch with a silvery metal wired thread and the silky black one.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stitching "Munin" - Odin's raven

This is Munin, one of allfather Odin's ravens. Munin means "memory", and together with Hugin ("thought"), he was sent out every morning to investigate what mankind was doing and then report it to Odin. Odin was always worried that his ravens would not return, and that "thought" and "memory" (of the old religion) would then be lost forever. (Old Nordic mythology)

I started with embellishing a piece of fine linen to a woolen cloth, back and front several times, until the two layers were melted together. Then I drew up the outlines with a soft pencil, stitched them with grey wool in chainstitch and worked a couching stitch over the chainstitch with some red strands of wool. I added some quilting stitches with a linen thread at the wings (split-, stem-, satinstitch and french knot for the details).

The runes to the left mean "Munin".

I didn't use real embroidery yarn - the grey one is actually a fine knitting wool, the red one comes from an old woolen tassle. For the stitching background, I like the combination of linen on wool a lot - the wool softens and stiffens the linen (that means you don't need a hoop), and still there is a good linen-feeling in the material.